Undergraduate Studies Committee of the Faculty Senate, November 15, 2002.


The meeting was called to order at 3:05.  Present were Kenneth Koford, Michael Arenson, Hilton Brown, Doug Buttrey, Thomas Leitch, P.K. Krishnan, Dan Taylor, Norm Wagner (Graduate Studies), John Courtright, Lou Hirsh, and Maggie Masso (Parsons).


Old Business

1.  Multicultural Studies review.

            Hilton Brown presented his proposal to increase the total credits to 9, and focus on international and secondarily gender/sexuality issues.  There was some agreement that gender and ethnic issues have changed in 16 years, since the proposal was originally passed.  Is the “inner city” now part of students’ world?

            The list of acceptable courses appeared to be too long and not to fit the desired goals--perhaps departments needing students try to fit a class in, and departments with too many students try to keep them out?

            It was remarked that Pathways courses seem to have the same objectives as the multicultural requirement--to expand students’ views and understandings, etc.  Why is the multicultural group better than some other one (I will think of biology/evolution, for example) that would extend students understandings?

            It was suggested that all study abroad programs probably satisfy the multicultural requirement, since the student is abroad and is learning about another culture.

            Thomas Leitch questioned the homogeneity of “western culture” that students are presumed to know about.  Perhaps they know very little about the ancient Greeks or the middle ages.

            Doug Buttrey wondered if the multicultural requirement should be adjusted to each student, as some students will be quite familiar with certain “non-western” cultures, and learning about them would not be appropriate.


            After 45 minutes of discussion, we turned to other matters, planning to return at the next opportunity.


2.  Honors program admission changes.  Katharine Kerrane presented this proposal, representing the Honors faculty.  The rationale was fundamentally that the committee reviewing applications of matriculated students to join the Honors Program finds that there is not sufficient information on many of them to make a decision; as a result, they delay decisions to obtain more information.  The admission requirements are intended to assure that the students are able and motivated for the Honors Program.


            A long discussion ensued.  It seems that under the new rules, a student could not join the program until their junior year.  This long delay was questioned.  Doug Buttrey wondered if students wanting to joint the honors program were disadvantaged in taking honors classes, if the classes were filled.  Then they could not succeed.  Thomas Leitch suggested that this situation looked like a vicious circle.

            Katharine Kerrane said that faculty thought that some applicants were resume-building and were not sincerely interested in the program.  How many students drop out of Honors?  Kerrane stated that about 75% of students are active at the esnd of their sophmore year, judging by those who get the 2-year award--enough classes, plus a 3.0 GPA.

            Norm Wagner wondered about the evidence needed to determine if applicants were sincere; if there were just 15/year, why was this a problem?

            Dan Taylor questioned a higher standard for transfers than for high-school students.

            Koford thought that the goal might be to assure that there was clear evidence that the student was actively pursuing an honors degree.


            After Kerrane left the room, a discussion ensued.  It was agreed that the proposal had no chance of passage.  Koford proposed that the committee ask the Honors Program to respond to the concerns of the committee; he would summarize these in a letter to Courtright and Kerrane.  The Honors Program could modify the proposal, explain the Committee’s errors, or withdraw the proposal.  After discussion, the motion was voted unanimously.


2.  Permanent Status for Plant Biology major;  Permanent Status for Landscape Horticulture major.  David Frey of Plant and Soil Sciences came to explain the majors.  Plant Biology focuses more on agricultural biotechnology; Plant Science is the traditional major focusing on the production of grains.  Plant Biology has relatively few students, but the department is actively recruiting in the Biology department.  The specialized courses are basically all covered, and new faculty are being hired to cover any gaps.

            Landscape Horticulture is very popular with students, and is adequately covered by faculty.  It ties in with the graduate program in this area.


            After a brief discussion, the two majors were unanimously approved for permanent status.


3. Chemical Engineering had two proposals.  Visiting to explain the proposals were Jon Olson and Ann Robinson.  At the meeting were also Doug Buttrey and Norm Wagner, nearly giving Chemical Engineering a majority! 

            The first proposal involved minor changes in the Chemical Engineering major.  The overall effect was to reduce the requirements.  Koford wondered how the students would get along without M302--ordinary differential equations.  It was explained that the main techniques were taught in several of the required courses.  Olson wondered if economics majors currently are required to take M302, since economics should contain some dynamics...

            The second proposal was a new minor, Biochemical Engineering.  This is basically a course of study in the engineering design of molecules.  Thus it is different from the new minors approved last year in information and biotechnology, bioinformatics and computational biology, which focus on computer databases; it is different from the new concentration in biomedical engineering, which focuses on developing medical devices.


            The committee approved these two proposals unanimously.


            At 4:55 the committee adjourned.